Barry Johns

Johns studied architecture at the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now Dalhousie University). In 1973 he moved to Vancouver, where he worked with leading firms including those of Bruno Freschi and Arthur ERICKSON. He credits Erickson as an inspiration to his own work.

Johns, Barry
Architect Barry Johns (courtesy Group2 Architecture Engineering Ltd).

Barry Johns

Barry Johns, architect, design critic, instructor (b at Montréal 24 Nov 1947). Barry Johns's work is characterized by rational planning, appropriate technology, clear circulation and sustainable design. He responds to local climate and topography and has strong views on how to make Canadian cities more vibrant. He might be termed a regional Modernist architect.

Johns studied architecture at the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now Dalhousie University). In 1973 he moved to Vancouver, where he worked with leading firms including those of Bruno Freschi and Arthur ERICKSON. He credits Erickson as an inspiration to his own work. While working with Erickson, Johns served as the senior project architect for the public amenity areas of Robson Square in downtown Vancouver, completed in 1979.

In 1981 Johns moved to Edmonton where he opened his own office, Barry Johns Architects Ltd. Among his most notable projects were the downtown campus of Grant MacEwan College, with its dramatic reinforced-concrete towers, and the Advanced Technology Centre, whose angular roof forms emerge from the flat site like mountains from the foothills. In the Grant MacEwan project, a four-block site that was formerly part of the CN Rail lands, he tried to "fill in the gaps" in an otherwise empty area so as to create an exciting downtown. Another of Johns's notable Edmonton projects is the Cité francophone, a large-scale project that brings under one roof a number of the city's francophone agencies.

In 1998 Johns became a founding principal with Stantec Architecture Ltd., a multi-disciplinary engineering firm that wished to open an architecture division. During a three-year period with Stantec, he served as partner in charge of the Prince George Art Gallery (known as the Two Rivers Gallery), completed in 2000. Other projects included the reconstruction of the historic Blatchford Field Air Hangar in Fort Edmonton Park (2000); a major office redevelopment for Telus Corporation in downtown Edmonton (2000); the Clareview LRT Station in Edmonton; and the Information and Communications Technology Centre (ICT) at the University of Calgary. This project was named 2001 Building of the Year by Alberta Construction Magazine.

In 2000 Johns opened a new studio under the name of Barry Johns (Architecture) Limited. Projects include a regional health and wellness centre at the University of Lethbridge; Cardel Place, a recreation centre in Calgary; and on Saskatchewan Drive in Edmonton, the One River Park condominium highrise development. The studio merged with Group2 Architecture Engineering in 2007 to become the Johns Group2 Architecture Engineering Studio, based in Edmonton. The new firm's work includes a major expansion to the Red Deer College Building Communities for Learning Project, The Triffo Hall Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Alberta and the Lemur Pavilion in the Edmonton Valley Zoo.

In addition to his work as an architect, Johns has worked as a design critic and studio instructor in a number of Canadian universities, including Dalhousie University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, the University of Montréal and McGill University. As a teacher and a practitioner, Johns has championed the cause of sustainable architecture, has written on the subject of sustainability (Canadian Architect, January 2003) and has completed several LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System) projects. Johns was co-founder of the Innovative Practice Group in Architecture (IPGA) at the faculty of environmental design at the University of Calgary. He has also been active in civic and professional affairs, and consulted with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and Athabasca University to create a new practice-based distance-education degree program in architecture.

Barry Johns has received more than 60 design awards, including the Governor General's Award for Architecture in 1992. In 1994 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the following year a Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (RCA). In 2002 he received an honorary fellowship in the American Institute of Architects (AIA).


Further Reading

  • Johns, Barry. Barry Johns Architects: Selected Projects, 1984-1998. Tuns Press, 2000.